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Accredited Financial Investigation Powers: Consultation

Volume 688: debated on Thursday 28 January 2021

I intend to lay a statutory instrument this year which will grant accredited financial investigator powers to an additional five agencies. This will bring the total number of agencies with access to these powers to 36 in addition to all police forces and local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Accredited financial investigator powers grant civilians working for that agency access to certain Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 powers, which assist in the effective recovery of proceeds of a crime that falls under that agency’s jurisdiction. Accredited financial investigators have the ability to use financial intelligence for more complex financial investigations and are able to contribute to the recovery of the proceeds of crime.

The following organisations have sought access to accredited financial investigator powers: the Service Police, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland and the London Fire Brigade. I have assessed the value of extending the powers to each of these agencies—in particular whether effective criminal justice outcomes could be reached in their jurisdictions without access to these powers—and I have concluded that we should seek to grant the powers to all five. However, I intend to seek the views of the wider public as to whether these organisations should be granted these powers.

Currently, the previously mentioned agencies either rely on other agencies designated with financial investigation powers—such as the National Crime Agency or police forces—or have no access to recover proceeds of crime within their jurisdiction. Granting these organisations access to the powers will improve the law enforcement outcomes that they can deliver. The Home Office committed to grant these powers to additional organisations in the asset recovery action plan, published in 2019.

As such, I intend to publish a consultation for seven weeks from 28 January. This consultation will seek to establish the views from the public on whether or not these organisations should be granted the financial investigator powers.

I will arrange for a copy of the consultation document to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.